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Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans


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Washington, D.C.

June 23, ‘94.

Paul! Paul!!

This wail of agony comes to you from your perishing Rebekah! Yes, dear, I fear life for me is o’er. I am slowly fading – no melting away. Oh this aw-ful heat! I have mercifully put the

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thermometer in the ice chest for it had bravely struggled upward until I could bear its torrid climb no longer, so seizing it from the wall I thrust it into the ice box thereby saving its mercurial existence. Really Paul I should think that Mother Ceres at her advanced age would have given over flirting! - and

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especially with the firery Apollo!

She must have been coquetting most wickedly, to have so fascinated him that he casts upon her a gaze so ardent that we, poor mortals, are in immediate danger of being cremated! And you Paul ! - are you keeping cool in that delightful bit of paradise you described to me as “a

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smile flashing through tears”? How I wish I were there too! Then we would go and sit on the bank of some shadowy stream, some cool delightful spot, one of Nature’s poems. A poem made of sparkling water, fair flowers, stately trees, waving grasses and an arch of heaven’s blue, above – a poem set to music in the

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leaves’ melodious rustle and the ripple of the stream. You would read or recite to me Paul and the music of your voice would blend with that of leaf and stream and with the Muses hand in hand intertwined we would wander for long hours forgetful of all else.

But how very desultorily I am writing today! But

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on a day like this one might be pardoned for writing anyway, however disconnectedly.

I saw Julia one day this week and told her some of the nice things you said about her in your letter.

Apropos of that letter, it would have been answered before this but I have been so busy closing

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my school records that I have not had time to think not that my letters ever evidence much indulgence in that habit – and if you have ever taught you know what “closing the records” means. We were set at liberty on Thursday and were it not for the insupportable heat, I would

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enjoy it.

I almost envy you your delightful trip, Paul. I suppose I shall go somewhere to the country perhaps, or to the Douglasses who have a nice little place on the Chesapeake. I am so fond of the water that I may go to them. I presume you met them in Chicago. Mr. Chas.

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Douglass and his wife. He, you know, is the son of Mr. Fred’k Douglass.

Well, Paul,

There is nothing very interesting to write to you about, and I have already scruplelessly (I wonder if there is such an awful word) infringed upon your time this lot of nonsense.

Somehow though,

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I like to go on writing to you despite the glaring fact that I have nothing to say and am unmistakably saying it.

I hope to hear from you soon.

“Your friend always”

Rebekah L.*

*Not “B” my dear Paul


Primary Item Type

Personal Correspondence


This item is part of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House collection at Ohio History Connection, Columbus, Ohio. The collection contains items from 219 N. Summit St., Dayton, Ohio (later 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.), the home Dunbar purchased for his mother, Matilda J. Dunbar, in 1904. Paul Laurence Dunbar lived there until his death in 1906; Matilda lived there until her death in 1934. It is now the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.


Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans